Other useful stuff

Helpful definitions

Marketing is full of terms that get casually bandied about
But what do they really mean?


A product or service plus values and associations.

Brand architecture

The organising structure for a brand portfolio. It should build brand equity, guide brand and product development and help the consumer navigate the range. Includes decisions about the role of the masterbrand and whether to include sub-brands, endorsed brands or named product lines.

Brand belief

The brand’s point of view about the world, and what could make it a little better. Ideally, it should be at once bigger than, and yet connected to, the brand’s category.

MORE: Model Answers, Helen Edwards, Marketing, October, 2011

Brand equity

The commercial value of the totality of positive, rational and emotional perceptions of the brand, held by consumers and others, minus the detrimental effect of any negative perceptions. Brand equity is a concept that attempts to isolate the value embodied in the name and other symbolic assets, beyond the value placed on the substantive product or service itself.

MORE: The recipe for equity, Helen Edwards, Marketing, August, 2010

Brand essence

The central theme of the brand – usually expressed as a single word or short sentence.

Sometimes defined more viscerally as ‘The soul of the brand’.

MORE: Model Answers, Helen Edwards, Marketing, October, 2011

Brand idea

The link between the internal brand codification and its ultimate expression outwards, to the world. The single thought that unites everything across all behavioural and communications channels.

Sometimes called Big Idea

MORE: Model Answers, Helen Edwards, Marketing, October, 2011

Brand identity

The way that a brand seeks to portray (identify) itself to customers, employees and others.

Note: usually captured as an internal reference point, to guide external activity. Sometimes confused with Visual Identity (VI) which is the way a brand unifies its communications through a consistent visual approach, including logo and other bespoke visual assets.

Brand world

The totality of the sensory codes and cues – visual, verbal, auditory, olfactory, oral, behavioural, experiential – that the brand systematically lays out for consumers across multiple contact points. The intention behind the creation of a ‘brand world’ is to offer consumers an attractive and distinct conceptual environment that they enter into as part of every encounter with the brand.

Also called Brand Codes and Cues

Challenger brand

A brand that openly and exuberantly disrupts, or questions the norms of, its category; usually not the category’s brand leader but frequently its thought leader.

MORE: The concept of ‘Challenger Brands’ was originated by Adam Morgan, who has written extensively on the subject, including a chapter in The Definitive Book of Branding.

Consumer insight

A revelatory breakthrough in your understanding of people’s lives that directs you to new ways in which to serve your customers better

MORE: Insights in view, Helen Edwards, Marketing, August, 2013

Co-operative inquiry

A qualitative research methodology with its roots in action research. Co-operative inquiry is research with co-inquirers as opposed to on respondents. It involves fully immersing co-inquirers in the objectives of the research and enlisting their help in framing the findings.

MORE: United we understand, Helen Edwards, Marketing, April, 2011

Employer brand

An organisation’s image and reputation as an employer. It will be influenced by, but may still be distinct from, its corporate image and reputation, and those of its brands.

MORE: The HR Marketers, Helen Edwards & Derek Day, Marketing, January, 2008


A qualitative research methodology with its roots in anthropology and the social sciences. Ethnography works from the question ‘What’s going on?’ and seeks answers through long-term observation of subjects, in the real-world setting.

Note: social/academic ethnographic research normally implies weeks or even months of observation. Commercial ethnography usually shortens this and uses additional tools such as video diaries to sharpen findings.

Native advertising

An advertisement that closely resembles the form and feel of the medium in which it is placed. A fancy term for ‘advertorial’.

Net promoter score

A single-number metric that is derived from the answers, scaled from 1-10, to the survey question ‘How likely are you to recommend (this brand)?’ Responses with a 9 or 10 are ‘promoters’, while those of 6 or below are ‘detractors’. The Net Promoter Score is found by subtracting the proportion of detractors from the proportion of promoters.

Passion brand

A brand with a strong belief, a deep understanding of people, and the confidence, exuberance and capability to link the two.

MORE: ‘The extraordinary power of brand belief’, our chapter in The Definitive Book of Branding (Sage, 2014)


The space (position) that a brand occupies in the minds of consumers, relative to competitor brands – always assuming it is fortunate enough to occupy a space there at all.

Sometimes defined as ‘What the brand means and stands for’ – again, in the minds of consumers.


What the brand, business or organisation actually does, practically and symbolically, to help bring about the better world it envisages.

Sometimes called ‘Brand role’


The means by which marketers divide up consumers to form meaningful and distinct groups (by demographics, attitude, need or combination).

MORE: Sense and segmentation, Helen Edwards, Marketing, October 2012


The study of signs and symbols as a significant part of communication.


A place or situation in which consumers can come into contact with the brand, or some aspect of the brand.

MORE: Zones of Brand Perception touchpoint mapping framework


Combining two or more research methodologies or sources to validate a theory or finding.

Vanity metric

Data relating to a brand, business or customers that do not help managers make decisions – as opposed to ‘action metrics’, which do.

MORE: Measuring in vain, Helen Edwards, Marketing, February, 2013